Terps’ Logan Aronhalt conditioned to contribute off the bench

Gives Maryland 3-point threat

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Logan Aronhalt’s decision to use his final year of basketball eligibility at Maryland meant an opportunity to play in a power conference and pursue a graduate degree in exercise physiology.

The chance to tie the two together provides an even greater reward for him.

It isn’t hard to find the former Albany guard in Comcast Center. If he isn’t practicing or hoisting shots early on the morning of a game, he’s probably huddled in the team weight room adjacent to the arena floor with Kyle Tarp, Maryland’s director of basketball performance.

“When I’m not in class, I’m usually over here learning from him,” said Aronhalt, who hopes to go into the strength and conditioning field once his career is complete. “Sometimes I call him Professor Kyle because he has so much information.”

For all the fulfillment the move to College Park provided, the basketball element also is important. And Aronhalt offered a reminder Saturday of just what he can provide the Terrapins (4-1), who visit Northwestern (6-0) in Tuesday’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Aronhalt scored 12 points, all on 3-pointers, in Maryland’s 70-53 defeat of Georgia Southern. He also logged a season-high 15 minutes just a day after coach Mark Turgeon described how it was unfair for a player whose outside shooting is his best skill to have little chance at developing an in-game rhythm.

“[There’s] lot of pressure when you don’t play a lot and you come in and get an open look to make it,” Turgeon said. “I was happy for him. He really helped our team the other night. I thought he guarded better, and that’s the biggest hiccup with him is defensively being able to do it. If he can do it defensively, I know he can help us offensively.”

When Aronhalt agreed in May to join the Terps, his role projected to be larger. He scored 1,100 points in three seasons at Albany and averaged 13.8 points a year ago for the Great Danes. Maryland needed a perimeter shooter, and Aronhalt seemed like a solid fit as a reserve guard for the rebuilt Terps.

The projected rotation changed considerably when Dez Wells, who signed with Maryland in September, was declared immediately eligible a few days before the season opener. There would be an effect down the roster, with Aronhalt seeing his time sliced considerably as he became the fifth guard.

“Coming in without Dez, it could be playing 25 minutes a game, possibly,” Aronhalt said. “He came in, and I was excited for him when he got eligible. It makes our team so much better with him out there on the floor. It was something new, something that was a surprise, but it wouldn’t be the same team without him.”

Still, Aronhalt is a welcome luxury for a team coming off a season in which it enjoyed virtually no depth. He hit a 3-pointer coming out of a timeout in the final minute of the first half last week against Lafayette. Then came Saturday’s flurry, when he made all four of his attempts.

Aronhalt is shooting 7-for-11 (63.6 percent) beyond the 3-point arc and has attempted only two shots from two-point range.

“He just comes in and does what he can,” guard Nick Faust said. “Coach gets him open shots, and we get him open shots, and he’s knocking them down lately. It’s definitely helpful for the team.”

It’s not all Aronhalt can provide. On a team littered with youth, he has more than four college seasons of accumulated wisdom to share. Given both his interests and his injuries (Turgeon said back, knee and ankle ailments have limited Aronhalt), his preparation for games also can serve as a model.

Of course, Aronhalt isn’t familiar with everything. He’s already come off the bench more this month than he did the past two seasons combined, and he’s adapting to providing support and insight to teammates rather than taking more than 10 shots a game.

“It’s a role I want to be comfortable in, but I almost have to force myself to do it,” Aronhalt said. “I think I’m getting better at it as we go along. I don’t even want to play those 35 minutes. I don’t know if my body can take that anymore. Just getting used to the role is something new for me. I’m actually starting to enjoy it.”

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